Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Stephen Greenleaf


Stephen Greenleaf was born in 1942 in Washington DC. He graduated from Carleton College in 1964 and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1967. He later studied creative writing at the University of Iowa and taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival from 1995 through 2000. Stephen Greenleaf is the author of the successful John Marshall Tanner detective series. Dissatisfied working in the legal profession, he published Grave Error, his first novel in the series, in 1979 to excellent critical reviews. Greenleaf once said: “After finding myself at age thirty-four devoting most of my life to a profession I didn’t enjoy, I wrote a novel and was able, without an agent, or a “contact” in publishing….to get it published. I say this simply to inform and to encourage those who might be in a similar circumstance.”

What he writes: From the first sentence, “Clients come and go,” the reader will be drawn into this series featuring hardboiled lawyer-turned-private-investigator John Marshall Tanner, written in the vein of Ross Macdonald and Dashiell Hammett. “Marsh” is a middle-aged loner who is happy sitting at home reading and listening to music with a bag of Oreos and a highball by his side. However, after being disillusioned from a past legal case, Tanner is always eager to get to the bottom of some mystery, not necessarily involving a murder, but usually dealing with a controversial social issue such as legal insanity, radical politics, or surrogate motherhood. Critics praise Greenleaf’s mysteries for their literacy, wit, and compassion, with plots that nudge Tanner into complicated ethical dilemmas. Most of the books in the series take place in the classically noir San Francisco setting.


List of works
John Marshall Tanner Series
  Grave Error (1979) Blood Type (1992)
  Death Bed (1980) Southern Cross (1993)
  Child Proof (1981) False Conception (1994)
  State's Evidence (1982) Flesh Wounds (1996)
  Fatal Obsession (1983) Past Tense (1997)
  Beyond Blame (1986) Strawberry Sunday (1999) -- large type
  Toll Call (1987) Ellipsis (2000)
  Book Case (1991)  
Other works
  The Ditto List (1985)
  Impact (1989)
Dilys Award, The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association nominee for Book Case, 1992
The Falcon Award (best private-eye novel published in Japan) for Book Case, 1993
Shamus Awards Best Novel nominee for Flesh Wounds, 1997
Edgar Awards Best Novel nominee for Strawberry Sunday, 2000
Shamus Awards Best Novel nominee for Ellipsis, 2001
What the critics say
“The Tanner series continues to be among the most emotionally and intellectually challenging in the genre. Outstanding.”
Booklist (January 1, 1996)
“Mr. Greenleaf writes like a literary guerrilla. Lulling his readers by laying out the messy moral questions with clarity and intelligence, he bushwhacks us with unexpected twists.” —New York Times (November 6, 1994)


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